Jackson Health System chairman says UM relationship has caused ‘irreparable harm’


Jackson Health System’s chairman seeks new physician alignments to make up for its changed relationship with the University of Miami.

Planning for a closed-door meeting next week to discuss strategic planning, board chairman Marcos Lapciuc said Thursday that the Jackson Health System needs to reconsider its future because it is currently “misaligned with our academic partner,” the University of Miami.

Lapciuc said that the UM relationship in recent years has “created irreparable harm” to Jackson and has “hurt the poor” that Jackson serves.

He said that Jackson needs to continue working with UM’s medical school in areas where UM wants to partner, such as the transplant program, but needs to find other opportunities now that UM is emphasizing the needs of its own 560-bed University of Miami Hospital, which is across the street from Jackson Memorial.

“We are very confused by this strange statement when you consider that we have more than 500 University of Miami physicians providing medical care for the poor at Jackson,” Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the UM medical school, said in a statement emailed to The Herald Thursday evening. “UM doctors have treated more than 500,000 indigent patients this year alone, and we will continue to be the primary physicians taking care of these patients.”

Lapciuc said that many hospital chains are aggressively buying physician practices, preparing to form accountable care organizations that are emphasized in the Affordable Care Act, but “these are expensive acquisitions” that will be hard for Jackson to afford at present.

Lapciuc’s remarks came during the board’s monthly committee day. On Wednesday, the board will hold a strategic planning session with an open meeting followed by an hour-and-a-half closed session to discuss plans that the board doesn’t want competitors to know about.

Such closed sessions of public hospitals are permitted under a special exception to the state’s Sunshine Laws.

In other business Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Mark Knight reported that the system showed a surplus of $2 million in November, but cash on hand was an ultra-low 8.78 days, because anticipated payments from the state had yet to arrive. The benchmark for financially stable public hospitals is 174.8 days of cash, according to Jackson’s financial report.

Net patient revenue was $81.7 million for the month, up from $69 million in November 2011 — primarily because many more patients were qualifying for Medicaid, meaning lower numbers of uninsured, nonpaying patients, Knight said.

Jackson’s efforts on collecting from insurers continues to improve. Insurers are now paying the system on an average of 45.36 days after being billed — better than the national benchmark of 45.9 days.

Duane Fitch, a hospital consultant for Jackson’s unions, noted that with such success it made no sense for Jackson to pursue out-sourcing of its business office operations. “If it’s not broke, why fix it?”

Chief Executive Carlos Migoya said Jackson was just exploring the possibility of outsourcing and had made no decision.

Migoya told the board that federal regulators were demanding 12 actions to fix problems in the Medicare portion of the Jackson Health Plan. One action required: Stop immediately requiring authorization of emergency room visits. Jackson executives said they’re working to comply.

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